Gulf of Aden Security Review
A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.
Yemen: AQAP claims credit for dozens of attacks in 2010; AQAP releases 15th issue of Arabic-language magazine; al Houthi spokesman says ceasefire terms being fulfilled; southern leader released from prison; Yemen’s parliament provisionally removed presidential term limits, condemned U.S. interference
Horn of Africa: TFG soldiers mutiny due to non-payment of wages; AMISOM says advances made in 2010; explosion in Mogadishu kills Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighter; al Shabaab arrested qat dealers outside of Mogadishu; al Shabaab ordered women to wear veil, have male chaperone and TFG bans veil for security reasons; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a accuses Ethiopian forces of disarming its fighters; Puntland governor targeted by explosion in Galkayo; Somaliland denies links to al Shabaab; three Somalis arrested at Busia border crossing
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has said it was responsible for 49 attacks since June and that 36 of these attacks targeted security headquarters and checkpoints. The statement added that it conducted at least 13 military operations against Yemeni security personnel in five different governorates.
- AQAP published the 15th issue of its Arabic-language magazine, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics) on December 28. An article included in the issue was written in support of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The article ends, “Know that your victory in Algeria is a victory for us in Riyadh, and our victory in Sana’a is a victory for you in Rabat, until all our banners unite around Jerusalem soon.”
- Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam reported that 428 al Houthi rebels had been released from Sana’a and Sa’ada prisons. In exchange, the rebels turned in ten military vehicles in Harf Sufyan district in Amran governorate. Salam added that an additional 11 vehicles were handed over in al Malahaidh district and 21 vehicles were turned over in Sa’ada.
- Yemeni authorities released Hassan Baoum, the head of the supreme council of the Southern Movement, from a prison in Ibb governorate. His eldest son reports that Baoum had been on a “four-day hunger strike,” which led to his hospitalization. Baoum is reportedly now in Dhaleh.
- Yemen’s parliament provisionally passed a constitutional amendment that would eliminate presidential term limits, but would shorten the term from seven years to five years on Saturday. On Friday, the acting spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Mark Toner, had urged Yemeni parties “to delay parliamentary action and to return to the negotiating table to reach an agreement that will be welcomed by the Yemeni people as well as Yemen's friends.” Saturday, Yemen’s parliament said that the U.S. had “violated [Yemeni] sovereignty and interfered in its internal affairs.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers mutinied near the presidential palace in Mogadishu because of non-payment of wages. At least three soldiers were killed and seven others wounded, according to witnesses.
- AMISOM spokesman, Major Barigye Ba-Hoku, said that AMISOM forces had made advances over the past year in Mogadishu and that the forces have succeeded in protecting the TFG and key economic infrastructure such as the seaport and the airport.
- An explosion at a checkpoint in Dharkenley district of Mogadishu killed at least one Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighter and severely wounded two others. Ahlu Sunna and TFG soldiers were searching the scene after the first explosion when a second bomb exploded. The casualty count has not been reported.
- Al Shabaab militants arrested at least 20 people in Elasha Biyaha, which is outside of Mogadishu. The detainees included women and were accused qat dealers.
- Al Shabaab conducted a military exercise in the Afgoi corridor that drew militants from Lafole, Arbiska, Elasha, and KM 13 villages. Al Shabaab’s governor for the Lower Shabelle region, Sheikh Mohammed Abu Abadalla, praised the assembled militants and called on them to prepare to fight TFG and AMISOM forces.
- The al Shabaab administration in the Afgoi corridor has ordered women to where a “good” veil, even at home and warned that anyone seen violating the order would be punished. Women are also not permitted to be without a male chaperone. Somali government forces have banned the veil for security reasons. A government officer said, “Women wearing Niqab won’t allow to pass Ex-control junction [into Mogadishu]. Because the last few days, it is known that Al Shabaab militants, who want to create violence in the area, wear female cloths and yashmak.”
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a’s Sheikh Abdi Badel Sheikh Abdullahi said that Ethiopian forces have harassed Ahlu Sunna militants in the Gedo region. He added that the Ethiopians disarmed Ahlu Sunna fighters and that the Ahlu Sunna military camp in Dolow upset the Ethiopians. A government official said that three Ethiopian officers ordered 300 government troops and a number of Ahlu Sunna fighters to put down their weapons.
- Puntland’s governor of the central Mudug region, Ahmed Ali Salad, was targeted by a remote-controlled device in Galkayo. At least two civilians were wounded in the blast.
- Somaliland’s minister for foreign affairs, Mohamed Abdillahi Omer, said, “Puntland's concern about Somaliland and al Shabaab is baseless, false and intended to take the focus away from Somaliland's ... arming and training a large army.” Puntland had accused Somaliland of harboring “fleeing remnants of the al Shabaab terrorist group which was recently defeated in Galgala hills area (al Medo mountain range).”
- Security forces arrested three Somalis suspected of ties to al Shabaab. The three suspects were arrested at a border crossing at Busia on their way from Nairobi to Kampala.